Saturday, 28 June 2008

The 66 pence Question

Robbing Royals

66p

The usual yearly spin about the £40,000,000 we give the Queen for being the Queen. The £187,000 year lackeys who toady up to her and count her cash spins this as only 66p per person a year. Well let’s start with; if it was only tax payers that would be closer to £1 if not more (it’s tricky to get a figure for tax payers).

Now the “only” bit is annoying as if it doesn’t matter. How about £2,970 that’s how much you pay in your life not a bad sum, I’d like that money for myself it would buy a new kitchen or great holiday or go towards buying a flat or or or or ......

Seeing as we are being patronised here lets do some sanctimony if reverse, imagine spending £40,000,000 on people without clean drinking water in Africa , it would buy 20,000,000 mosquito nets which would reduce the number of cases of malaria by oh 20,000,000 !

Do you know how much I would pay the 3rd richest women in world to be Queen……… 0p a year. We don’t need a monarchy we need an elected president, housed and transported in appropriate dignified way but elected.

The palaces which we own but largely are barred from would make fine museums, schools, libraries, pubs…..
It’s a real scam Old Betty sells most of the Palaces to us (even though they have been bought with our money in the first place) in return for some tax avoidance, so that we pay for their up keep and yet we can’t use them and the bits we can visit we have to pay £10 for the privilege.

So let’s be clear I don’t want any of my tax to get the royal family because we shouldn’t have a royal family.

Things I’d rather spend 66p on
Oxfam
Shelter
My nephew and nieces education
A can of Stella
A Gregg’s sausage roll
A mars bar
Pint of milk
Charity shop vinyl/book
Packet of seeds
Stamp and postcard to send to friend I’ve not seen in a while.
Or Walk down to the Thames take a step back take a big swing and throw the lot into the brown murky water rather than let Betty and her ill-gotten in bred grasping miserable brood have a single brassy penny on it….

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Lorry Protest

Fuel Foolishness:
While I queued this morning to renew my oyster, we where serenaded from the near by A2 by the air horns and sirens of protesting truckers, on their way to central London.
It was annoying, which is the point I suppose. They are protesting about the rise in fuels bills. Their aim is to get the government to freeze or remove fuel duty so their costs don’t increase.

Now putting aside the fact that all special interest groups believe there grievances are vitally important I think their plan is misguided. As removing duty will just cause more price inflation as use and therefore demand goes up so that in few months they will back where they started with high prices.

One area where the government may be able to act is on the money markets. It seems from various news programmes that the price of oil has gone up partly through supply issues but also because that jolly breed, “speculators “ have driven up the price. So basically people betting on oil price increase have partly caused said increase.
I’m not sure what governments can do about this but controls, taxes on profits on of speculators could be the way forwards .

But and you knew this was coming this and any other government will never stand up to city, the sound of air horns is annoying but they will fade Gordon and the boys are so in bed with the city that they won’t put their foot down even if the crowing city boys steal all the bed clothes, pillows, read in bed, snore and even have metaphorical threesome with their sister and wife. The fact that oil prices, house prices etc are all out of control down largely to uncontrolled unaccountable short term city gambling still hasn’t struck home to the Government and sadly probably never will.


Ps. I don’t in this case that fuel prices is green issue as we have no short term alternative, it should be used to drive longer term changes but in the short term it will have little effect.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Unholy Land?

Palestine/Israel no peace in sight
I don’t know what to think about the problems in Palestine/Israel sometimes, there seems to be so much hurt, suffering and loss on both sides. One thing I do know is that the two documentaries on BBC 4 tonight were really good, insightful in their own ways and not falling for easy answers. Why not have a watch on I-player.


A year or so ago I read Jeremy Bowens book about the six day war mainly to try and straighten out the history of the events in my mind.
The most telling thing he get’s over is that the Israeli tactics seem to be the same today as they were in the 1940’s i.e. measures like bulldozing the homes of suspected Palestinian fighters . Sadly they didn’t work then and they don’t work now. The pie eyed optimist in me suggests that films like the ones above may help a little to bring some understanding to the situation which may with luck may bring some peace.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Burma Typhoon









Burma Crisis
:

No one can have missed the terrible storm that has devastated Burma, the scenes on TV last night were terrible made worse by the fact that the news crews had to duck dive to hide from the government. Like most people I want to help but have had doubts about giving money for two obvious reasons.

Firstly the unease that my money will fall into the hands of the military government or that the aid bought by it may be used by the Junta to further control Burma’s people.

Secondly that if my money goes to charity those charities will be sat in Thailand wasting time while people starve and die of their wounds.

So what to do? Well I think it’s easy we give money etc otherwise we are showing the same level cynicism, arrogance and inhumanity that the military rulers of Burma show everyday.

Life in places like Burma will only get better if we all continue to show common human decency. Of course if George Bush could send a couple of aircraft carrier to help things along that might help to!

To donate go to OXFAM or the DEC


POSH schools talk tosh:

On the radio this morning there was debate about private education, basically the head of the fee paying schools association had been putting down state schools and had got a verbal slap from a Minister.The one thing that always rankles with private school types is the old chestnut that “they care about the education of all our children”.

Now some of the teachers in these schools may believe this but you can bet Jocasta’s next years fees that the fee paying parents don’t want good schools for all. Because they want division and inequality in life, they have forgone the odd 4 star hotel to pay the school fees to maintain inequality, if it went their kids would have to survive on their ability alone rather than pop into a nice job at age 22 without breaking sweet.

Private school parents hate equality they don’t like difference and diversity they want money and position to count for everything in life.


The only solution is get rid of the charity status of private schools and watch them slowly dwindle to a tiny irritating wart of privilege and inbreeding eventually to drop off one night when we finally become a fair and decent country which fully releases the potential of all its people not just those who can pay.

Friday, 2 May 2008

BOLLOCKS!

BOLLOCKS!!!!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Impound Chelsea

Impound Chelsea:
The campaign starts here: The money to buy Chelsea football club was gained by at best dubious and worst illegal means it rightly belongs to the people of Russian to be spent how they wish but a decent health service is always a good start.

So when the Chelsea land in Moscow in few weeks for the Champions League final the people of Russian should impound the rotten crew in recompense for their stolen billions. The team should only be returned if any compensation is forth coming or failing that they can be sold on the open market.

So if you believe in social justice join our cry of “impound the Chelsea!”

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Dubai big shit hole update...

I have long fumed against Dubai and it's ilk, it's wrong in so many ways.

"Oh what should we do when the oil runs out , er spend all the money on grim upscale holidiay tat or on education and health for our people ,so they can produce their own welath... er no lets go with shit villas for shit footballers. "

"Er er er sheik if there's no oil how are people going to afford to fly to this sweaty sandy dump ?" .....



And Mr Dubai you haven't reclaimed land you've stolen habitats from the sea numbnuts.



I mean my 4 year Niece may think an Island in the shape of the world is cool but she is four and I bet she'd get bored with it pretty soon, I mean grow up

"look look Ryan Giggs lives in belgium and the Rod stewarts on Thailand " for fuck sake grow up.



I don't know who I dislike most the Dubai leaders who squander their countries weath on gaudy crap or fatuous "Ballet" teachers from Surrey who like playing at Donald Trump as long as some poor sod gets paid £30 a week to empty the bins in 50 degree heat. And no Donna Dempsey this isn't envy no money on earth could get me to sit in your fetid jacuzzi sipping badly made drinks whingeing about property prices and air fares you smug get (I bet your not 46 either!)



So in conclusion Dubai is a chidrens cartoon shaped gaudy shit hole run by short sighted un elected crooks populated by smug selfish self deluding foreign cretins and footballers all kept in gilded bordom by unknown unprotected exploited, overworked lonely quasi slaves.

Would you like us to send you a Brochure.....

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Is she really going out with him?

The Italian Election:
Italy, Italy we all know how marvellous it is in so many ways, the food, the art, the music, Venice, the way that they have convinced the world that their footballers are passionate, skilful genius’ the European Brazilians (when in fact they solid rather dull defenders), “a country of contradictions” which brings us to their election.

Italy is like you friend who keeps getting back off with that creepy older guy nobody likes. You meet her for the first time in a while and are about to say “thank Christ your not with Sil...” and old slimy tanned toad wanders back from the bar with 2 Campari and sodas. You want to take her aside and say “what do you see in him?”; when she’s on her own she spends her time defending him “he’s very generous”, and “his hairs grown back” and “he’s got a lovely tan” “you should see him when we are alone, he’s completely different.....”

I don’t know whether to be more concerned that we all put up with a crook, fraudster, authoritarian bigot (and probably much more but how would we know he owns the TV and newspapers) like Silvio Berlusconi running a major country or that a member of his party on the today programme came out with this with respect to their victory.

Paraphrasing here:
“It is good that Italy is reducing the numbers of parties she has” ( er, didn’t this happen before ooh say 70 years ago) we need strong central leadership ( er erm stop now you are scaring me) we need to radically improve governmental services ( er like making the trains run on time.....)

So Italy to stop all your friends sticking their fingers down their throats and pretending to gag behind your PM’s back, why not dump Silvio and go out with that nice socialist you used to date, I know he doesn’t own his own football team but he seemed ok, you could bring him round for dinner and we can talk about music and art and football and Venice.....

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Turning Rebellion into money



In the latest issue of The Word David Hepworth reiterates the usual free market line that the present form of late capitalism is inevitable and therefore desirable. We all “sell out” so we shouldn’t criticise the Rock and Pop musician who do the same. Now I am no wide eyed idealist but I am feed up with the tired triumphalism of the present status quo. It’s all over the place it says “we can buy off Dylan and Costello, but you know what we’ll also say we use to like the Smiths and even Billy Bragg”, and “ oh and if we mess up we’ll be bailed out by the government and still get £750,000 pay off”. You can hear it every time a phone company adopts your favourite tune to sell another need less phone plan or when your favourite artist or film maker’s work is used to sell processed cheese.

Hepworth isn’t entirely consistent in his position as recently on the his own blog/podcast he was decrying the corporate folderol of sport, fire works, flags, branded stages etc. Do the same rules not apply to hair gel ads on screens at gigs or Dylan ads for thongs? Maybe being an insider of the music industry has relieved him and others of any delusions of that milieu and yet they still like to dream of experiencing their sporting heroes in a purer less money orientated way.

There are lots are reasons why “Born to run”, “Ace of spades”, “Jumping jack flash”, sound compelling, one of them is the myth that the person who wrote it was an outsider. This myth is as important as the myth of the free market, ironically it’s the reason Tom Waits sells more copies of the Word than Dido. Myths and legends are important it’s not deluded to put some store in them, the world of the imagination is necessary to us all; it doesn’t mean we don’t live in the real world, it means we inhabit two.
Most of the things we cherish most in life aren’t valued for their sale price on E-bay. The un-edifying experience of capitalism rubbing our faces in it is just depressing. Finally does anyone really need birthday card of a junky from your granny and oh do you want Toblerone for a £1 with that madam……
Ps the cards were on sale in a branch of Smiths in the City of London

Monday, 7 April 2008

Let the people of Tibet decide their future!

Putting a torch to democracy!

The Tibet Torch protests yesterday were excellent they turned what was an offensive bland publicity stunt into a bizarre contact sport. The torch party resembling nothing more than the US Marines in the film “Black Hawk Down” rushing through Mogadishu under attack from unfriendly natives.
I had been at odds as to whether the Chinese should hold the Olympics as it legitimizes them, although I do think that in this moment when they have to take notice of the world’s opinion of them that it may be good thing.
The site of some Chinese stuff shirt making some glib speech to the sound of boos was very welcome. Although you can imagine he was thinking “why is Gordon Brown so weak, why don’t they just send in the troops and a clear the street of this rabble”.
As to the pro torch Chinese protestors maybe its good they come across some descent evrything isn't rosey in China and as we are learning in Britain self determination can make a once single union a more powerful, better, freer confederacy of friends.
Also I think on this occasion the distinction between celebrants and protestors that the Police made and used to inform their role was dodgy. Weren’t some the groups of celebrants encouraged on to the streets by the Chinese Embassy?
The Olympics won’t be called off but holdings them in a corrupt dictatorship (not that any dictator is a good thing), with high levels of poverty, pollution and randomly applied human rights won’t be it’s finest hour.
I am constantly amazed that countries like China and Russia that have been “civilised” for so long have yet to start treating their own people in a free, fair and decent manner.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Jonathon Toss

I wish to make a complaint!

Sometimes you can’t shout at the radio all day, so instead I wrote and complained about Jonathan Ross, basically because he’s tedious and unnecessary.
All the e-mails are reproduced as sent the last response from Andrew Milligan has some classic spelling mistakes in it as well.

I do worry that BBC haven’t understood the power relationships inherent in jokes about race. I was in no doubt that my complaint would produce no effect I was just hoping for a snowball effect.

I do get the feeling that JR has pocketed his cash and is now just phoning in his work, interviewing David Baddiel recently he was open about them being best mates they only reason seemingly for the interview. I also think Mark Kermode could easily do amore interesting, engaging and knowledgeable film show than Ross.

So here’s my Mr Angry routine:

Dear Sir,I writing to say can't the BBC give Jonathon Ross a rest? I've just turned on my radio and it was tuned into radio 2 in the first 5 mins of listening Ross had done the following objection things:
· Firstly he made an offensive racist comment; basically that Hardeep Singh Kohli only gets work because he is a Sikh and wears a turban.
· After playing a record about just taking the money (how apt) he tells a story involving anal surgery. Now I am no prude (I know prudes always say that but honestly I'm not) it's just that it's all so needless.

It all just comes over as arrogance, "look at me I can say anything and no one can do anything about it." There is a thin Line between cheeky chap and just offensive childish behaviour and Ross has crossed it.

I think his random puerility and casual bullying of guests particularly on his TV show is just tired. The fact that he was bragging about not even doing some shows live was just the nail in coffin and I turned the radio off. It is shame as in the past I have enjoyed his factual programmes on comics, Japan and films he's just got tedious and puerile. Please re-think how much air time he is give better still give us all a rest from him.

The BBC’s reply:

Dear Mr BLTP
Thank you for your email regarding Jonathan Ross. I understand you find Jonathan's style of presentation offensive and feel his comments can often overstep the mark. Nothing contained in our programmes is included with the intention of upsetting individual listeners and viewers and we apologise for any offence you were caused by Jonathan's comments.
The acceptability of a particular joke depends very much on its tone, style and intent, which can be difficult to assess and very much open to interpretation. Jonathan has established a reputation for his irreverent no holds barred style, which we feel is well recognised as being light-hearted and without malice.
We appreciate that some people may not like his style. Our difficulty is that we have to try to find a balance between allowing a presenter like Jonathan the freedom he needs to maintain his spontaneity and encouraging an awareness of where the boundaries of acceptable taste lie.I would like to assure you that we have registered your comments on our audience log. This is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily for all programme makers and commissioning executives within the BBC, and also their senior management. It ensures that your points, and all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.
Thanks again for taking the time to contact the BBC.

Regards
Ross Jubin
BBC Complaints

My second e-mail

Dear Ross,
Thanks for your speedy reply, thanks also for taking the time to read my comment many complaints services clearly issue stock letters. I am concerned however that you imply that racisms can be acceptable at certain level if it's done in "light-hearted" manner. The sort of casual racism inherent in Ross's joke about Hardeep Singh Kohli is exactly the sort that needs to be got rid of.
Also I believe the intention is irrelevant in racist abuse cases, more the effect on the person/group it's directed at. I would also state I'm not in the habit of finding offence on other people's behalf, far too much of that goes on these days but that this remark was offensive and inappropriate and was an example of a performer who believes he can say what he likes and not receive an reprimand. ThanksBLTP

The Beeb’s latest reply:

Dear Mr BLTP
Thank you for your further e-mail regarding 'Jonathan Ross' on BBC Radio Two.
I understand you are still concerned about some of Jonathan's humour and are worried we might e condoning racism provided it is light hearted. As we explained preciously, it is never the intention of the BBC to deliberately upset its audience. It is a recognised and traditional part of British humour to make jokes about foreigners and people within the British Isles. For example, the English are lampooned as "stuck up" and superior in their attitude to other races. You can argue that telling jokes about any race is wrong but usually such jokes are affectionate and free from malice. We do not wish to compile a list of banned subjects but do try to ensure that jokes on certain subjects are not overdone, and also that they are genuinely funny.
We can appreciate that some jokes, on any subject, will not be appreciated by all of our audience and in order to continue monitoring feedback we have registered your comments on our audience log.
This is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily for all programme makers and commissioning executives within the BBC, and also their senior management. It ensures that your points, and all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.I hope this goes some way to allaying your concerns and thanks once again for contacting the BBC.
Regards
Andrew Milligan
BBC Complaints

Sun Headlines?

Making a point!

On the train this morning I saw the Sun headline, now I know they go for impact etc but they do have particular style. It said “kids find women’s head in plastic bag on beach”. It’s shocking and terrible story in all aspects but aren’t those words eye catching enough without them being 50 point white on the black and here’s the thing underlined. Also why the plastic bag bit? Parts of some poor soul are strange enough to find on the beach, the fact they are in bag doesn’t make it anymore shocking.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Is uk a Police State?

ThoughtCrime 2008:
Here's a piece about the British Police's seemingly concerted attempt to stop the public showing of anti-war protesters' film.

I must admit to have not seen the film and have only a brief understanding of the nature of the protest. It would seem protesters in Brighton have been campaining against EDO who are an arms company, to highlight this local firms role in the arms trade/war in Iraq. The films shows their struggle and also is reported to show the Police in a bad light.

My main concern is that the Police Officers have been spending their time trying to stop public screenings of the film, in art cinemas, pubs etc. They have been using the fact this little film hasn't got a BBFC certificate to bully landlords into not showing it.

Lets' get things straight: Censorship is wrong particularly if the Police are misusing their powers or personnel to curb free speech. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the case the fact the police are bothering to do this officallly, semi-offically or privately, points you in the direction of what's really going on.

Check out this site and decide for yourselves what to think rather than have some disgruntled bobby decide for you.
The film Trailer

Saturday, 22 March 2008

The Edgy of Reason



New series of TaggART

I’ve talked before about my dislike of graffiti, well here’s a classic example.
Next to New Cross station the NHS has spent £ 14 M on a new health Centre. It’s good that places like Deptford have money spent on them; it’s an interesting wood clad building. But before it’s even finished some gimp has tagged it. As usual with “graphs” it’s obscure to say the least, knowing Deptford it’s probably some protest about something.
But all it really achieves is to make everyone who sees it day, that bit worse. Also some poor under paid builder is going to have to clean it off, money that could be spent on therapies at the new centre.

But as we know tagging is cool. In which case the rail line into cannon street must absolute zero when it come to cool, as every inch of the brick work is covered in this crud.

But of course tagging is edgy that’s why the railways carriage cafĂ© (in general a good idea) on the high street had to have “to Deptford with love” graphed down the side. A railway carriage in the middle of the street wasn’t edgy enough it has to be sprayed to make it minty cool. Of course the new health centre will look great when the solvents used to clean the tag off denatures the wood and that panel weathers quicker than the rest and thus a small bit at the time our local areas get that little bit worse.
But amongst the spray paint and empty chicken boxes it will at least be “edgy”.

“Oh but some of it is so creative” how can something that results in making the world an even worse place be ever called be a creative act.

And no this isn’t subjective you look at all the places people really want to live and none of them are covered in graffiti and when I say people I mean the majority of society except the over grown children who go around tagging.

So in conclusion:

  • Graffiti is ugly visual sewage.
  • Taggers are boring tedious talentless time wasters.
  • The Arty types who promote/encourage taggers are if anything even worse.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Citizen Kirsty


Just a couple of short things:


I love how these frosted windows hide your inherit racism...


I was thinking about these property programmes mainly on Channel 4. You know the ones where a PR manager married to some nonspecific media person wants to exchange their hectic urban life for the peace of the country/rundown seaside town. He wants to squeeze his gut into a wets suits to go kite surfing, she's already pregnant.... Isn't it funny how what is basically white flight (white people leaving the inner cities to put "crime" and the "poor/non white people" behind them) is being given hours and hours of positive air time. You never hear Kevin or Kirsty actually saying "oh it is a wonderful view you can't see a Hoody or Somali woman for miles" .


Citizenship.

The ex Lord Chancellor has done a review on citizenship (sorry should that be "Subjectship" oh no we still have a Queen). One idea is a passing out parade at schools so 16 years can be inducted into adult hood and into being a responsible citizen. They were talking about pledges of allegiance this morning but that's by the by.

My point is we should leave the kids alone and target the super rich and the sponging non-doms. If the former treasurer of the Tory party 9Lord Mac Alpine)can claim expenses in the House of Lords for living full time in Southern Italy (god knows where he pays his 2p of tax) why lecture some 16 year old future shop assistant whose going to be paying 20% of tax before she can even vote on doing there bit.

How about some lectures for the hedge fund managers in paying their share so that they pay more tax in percentage than the squaddie who job it is to protect them.

How about getting some more out of the rich non-doms who don't give toss for their own country and just swan round the world suckling at every financial teat they nuzzle up to before we brow beat kids. Kids who are smart enough to start asking about "why do MP's get away with fiddling their expenses" , "How come the Royal Family get loads of state money when they are already incredibly rich"

Oh and while we are at it let's see the over paid English sporting teams having some lessons in national pride etc and actually giving a toss when they play.

oh I'll swear allegiance to t'old Betty when she pledges allegiance to the mighty tykes who beat Chelsea 1-0 the other day.
Update: Lord Falconer called for a national day not linked to an "historical" event to celebrate the acheivements of ordinary people well 8th March the day Barnsley and Portsmouth knocked out Moan U and Chelsea out of The FA Cup, seems ideal!

Monday, 10 March 2008

We won.


FA hypocrisy
Barnsley 1 Chelsea 0

I know accusing the football authorities of hypocrisy isn’t new but here’s my case. Thinking that the game was over (how much extra time was played?) and having seen their team (widely called “little” “small” “homely” by the media) beat a bunch of over paid southern dandies, a few Barnsley fans ran on to the pitch. I won’t use the word “invade”, as when William of Normandy and his lads invaded Hastings he didn’t run on to the beach, find the first Saxon and kiss him, then do a dance and finally turn round to the nearest camera (tapestry weaver?) and gurn at them. This wasn’t an invasion it was a celebration. However fans running about on the pitch is seemingly the worst offence ever committed in football, much worse than £40 match tickets, £5 pound hotdogs, shoddy sweat shop made £60 pound replica shirts, clubs being bought by foreign owners burdened with huge debts and run into the ground, clubs being bought with money stolen from the Russia people or even Motty’s boring commentary. No a few fans celebrating is a terrible terrible thing. Barnsley will be fined for this celebration because rules are rules (well for small clubs anyway Moan United and Arsenal are treated differently).

But this is the same FA who has broken with tradition and is holding the semi finals at Wembley purely for monetary reasons. They are also the same FA who loves the fact that clubs like Barnsley have injected some passion, joy and drama back into the cup brining it back to the people who love it the most the fans. The FA PR team will love shots of fans dancing with players, the same fans who will shell out hopefully twice to go to Wembley to buy overpriced hotdogs etc and bring some passion etc to the cup which the FA can then show to corporate sponsors to get even more cash.

Anyway to reiterate the most important point is Barnsley beat Chelsea one nil by playing better football, they ran them off the park and made them look rubbish,

Barnsley are by far the greatest team the world as ever seen.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Uniform Nonsense

All these stories this week about RAF troops getting abuse in Peteborough, coupled with coverage of a medal presentation (when was last time you heard about one of those) and a "campaign" to put a WW11 RAF commander on the "plinth" in Trafalgar square; all seems a tad suspicious occurring in the week of a popular media favourite, an anniversary. In this case the anniversary of the start of the current Iraq war (did it really have an official start?).
I don't usually believe in conspiracies but I do believe in spin. Apart from the Peterborough story being largely unfounded this whole campaign by the Government to militarise Britain is deeply distasteful. I'm not saying we should abuse the arms forces (far from it I'm very grateful for the freedoms they have given us, this blog is a very small example of those freedoms).

But I just see the government's position is very cynical, they don't really give a toss for Armed forces personnel,otherwise they would equip the troops and look after the injured better. No ,New Labour are just trying to justify there woeful decision to enter into 2 badly planned ill thought out wars. By deflecting the public anger and unease at these wars by suggesting we shouldn't be nasty to service people is insulting.

Gordon Brown should be in front of the cameras explaining why after 5 years Iraq is still a dangerous unstable place where basic services still have not returned to pre invasion levels, where billions of pounds of Iraqi oil revenues have been squandered and stolen by American and other countries contractors, where religious intolerance boils away, where all this will gone for years to come and that's before we get to Afghanistan.

ps. On the subject of the "Plinth" I thought we had sorted this out it's great as a rolling platform for contemporary sculpture, all the Express readers who whinge on can just find another way to promote their half arses reactionary campaigns, we seem to have a growing set of memorials to various war and warriors in Whitehall and Hyde park corner why not stick another one there?

Friday, 7 March 2008

Split opinions


Going Nuclear?
I saw this article in the Technology bit of paper and it annoyed the hell out me so I wrote a blog post, which I decided to send to Charles Arthur the writer of the piece. He graciously replied to me, see below I don't think he answered all my points (he did reply very quickly though) and he seems to be pushing the council of despair which I never favour.

Here's my e-mail

Dear Charles,
I’m not surprised to see the Guardian supporting nuclear power as it has increasingly supported many of New Labour’s glibber policies. I’m more surprised you portray it as a broad brush one shop stop solution to our energy needs. You side step any attempt at energy saving or adapting our lifestyle to a future of finite energy resources.

Using the analogy of Northern Rock is very apt for this policy as throwing money after bad is was wrong to do with banks as it is with energy. If we don’t reduce our needs for energy first, we can never build sufficient power stations for our future needs. Building to meet supposed demand has never worked, if we had done the same with roads the M25 would be a 20 lane highway with every lane gridlocked by now.

Nuclear power is classic New Labour its the PFI of power supplies, a way of throwing large sums of money at problem so as to appear to be doing something, at the same time as side stepping difficult problems (waste, energy saving, the design and layout of cities, poor public transport) and ultimately leaving a large mess for our children to clean up.

Nuclear power much like carbon offsetting is just another way for rich people to maintain their lifestyles whilst passing on the negative effects to the poor: there’ll be no waste storage in pretty Cotswolds villages, no power stations in the middle of Georgian terraces in north London. The waste and danger will go to poor areas and countries who will gain little from the power.

Also the idea we will suddenly stop using oil the moment nuclear power increase is fanciful. We will use the nuclear power to find new quicker ways of turning oil into Co2 particularly if people feel they have “solved” global warming.

Also aren’t we swapping dependence on unstable countries for oil on to dependence on unstable countries for uranium, unless that is you’ve found a seam in Coventry that is. This problem will get worse when demand goes up we can’t all get our Uranium from Australia.

When did liberal progressive people become afraid of a challenge, fascism wasn’t defeated by broad brush strokes but by a lot of brave people taking the hard options and committing themselves to a long struggle, oh and partly (seeing as this is the technology section) by harnessing our ingenuity, talent skills to crack complicated problems.

Charle's Reply

Hi Chris..It's not a glib idea. You only have to look at our per capita energy consumption in Europe and compare it with China or India to see that asthey become more industralised, we'll be competing with them for oil and coal, which anyway we shouldn't be burning if we don't want to make global warming worse. Nuclear assures our energy strategy because we can reprocess it (we have abig plant in Cumbria doing just that) and reuse it.

And you're simply never going to persuade enough people to change their lifestyles to make reduction through less use happen. The only way thatscale of reduction - say in food consumption - happens is if you're at war.People aren't going to give up their nice lights, computers, big TVs, inorder to fight global warming. They think it's someone else's responsibility. That's why we have governments. Interesting that ours does want more nuclear power: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7281012.stm- today's FT.Fascism was defeated, but it took a lot of sacrifice. Absent a war, I don'tt hink people will make it. I'd rather not have a war. Ergo nuclear is as impler way forward.
Thanks for reading, and for writing.
best Charles Arthur, editor, Technology http://technology.guardian.co.uk/weekly/

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Booze Britannia

The moral panic continues

On the radio this morning there was the usual waffle about the extension of licensing laws. The BBC still insist on call it “24 hour drinking” which sounds scarier than “1 extra hour of supping” which is what happens in most cases. I was shocked by (I think) James Naughtie vehemence in questioning the minster defending the recent policy it was the sort of grilling that should be reserved for dirty hospitals or the war in Ira. The media seems to think that we all are against relaxing the drinking laws, the tidal boor of booze Britain stories is ongoing. We get the myth of continental drinking pushed all the time when in reality the French have high levels of liver cirrhosis and drink driving deaths and provincial Italian towns are just dull.

Happy Hours?
Also the extension of drinking times isn’t the problem it’s not the last shot people are having at 1 am that’s the problem it’s the fact that people had 8 shots before 8 pm that’s the problem. Also we have continental licensing laws but our town centre pubs are still grim packed drinking sheds. Aside from a general northern European love of getting smashed, if we had more pleasant pubs/bars we might just enjoy company over drink. But more seats will need table service; in order to talk sat down they need to turn the bloody music down, simple snacky local food would be good. We will also need a mix of good quality late night places and also spread them out. A few more late licences for smaller local pubs, if you spread people there is less confrontation people can walk home rather wait for cabs and night buses.


You can't give booze to baby
Also is there a way of lowering the age to ease kids into drinking (if they want to)? Provide more underage gigs and clubs. Kids want excitement like everyone else and sure they have to learn to occupy themselves but many kids feel forced to grow up too quickly so easing them into stuff with gigs etc could be a way forward. In America Christian rock is big for partly this reason in that they have huge fan base of kids up to 21 years old who can’t drink but want a good time and because the god botherers play sport halls etc that don’t have drink licences the kids can get in. Wouldn’t it be better that kids got to see and hear real rock, pop and dance.


The Media : Bitter hatred
Oh and as usual the picture used to illustrate the story on the BBC website is a pint bitter, it’s probably because Alco pops are drunk from branded bottles so can’t be shown for fear of accusing Smirnoff of pushing foul sickly violence inducing additive laced poison, wine can’t be shown because the editor of Today drinks wine so that’s aspirational so bitter get’s it in the neck although real drinkers account for tiny percentage of the alcohol infused crime.

Ps the Guardian in G2 has a long article on wine again this from a paper with at least 2 weekly wine columns and a food magazine that has 1-2 stories a month about grape juice, but rarely covers any of Britains 400 plus small beer makers, we really do have strange relationship with drink in Britain.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Media lexicon

Baronial Nonsense:
Words you only see in the press “Baron” as in Paul Raymond “porn Baron”. It’s glamorous title for someone who made a pile of cash out exploiting pimply gooseflesh, bored looking strippers and Soho property.

The brilliance of “Baron” is that the people so described aren’t going to complain too much as it sounds slightly romantic and buccaneering. What it really means is someone who has cornered a large part of market usualy by less then mainstream methods and then proceeds to do what they like. See also steel barons, railroad barons and the British royal family...

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Cry god for harry


Leashing the dog of war

One thing I've not seen in the coverage of Prince Harry's tour of duty in Afghanistan is that it was really just part of the rolling Royal programme to justify their existence. On the Channel 4 evening news on Thurs John Snow asked rhetorically why Harry couldn't become a banker rather than causing all these extra problems for the Army as well as causing the press to collude with the government. Well Snow is half right he could try to get another job but he couldn't be banker even though the Windsors are loaded they wouldn't want to be seen revelling in it. Although a city job would be right for Harry in some ways in that you can get positions on connections and being a good bloke alone.

Alternatively he couldn't be a professional because that would involve study and work and it's all a bit trade for the Royals. His uncle tried the arts and that didn't work out. So the army or "good" works (which will come later) are his only option.

The main reason Harry went to war is that Royals have to do something like this every so often to appear to keep their end up. Look at the Queen Mum she spent the war shopping, drinking gin and having her swimming pool bombed with the odd trip to Blitzed Poplar for PR. Those war time visits secured her a life time of the best health care, the best gin, the best race horses , 1 or 2 castles and dieing 2-3 million in debt. Not bad for a women who never said more than 2 words in public in 70 years.
So Harry's army thing is just a justification for keeping the Royals with the added bonus of some military pomp and circumstances.

It also has another bonus of sticking it to the political classes because as Mail readers will point out "say what you like about the Royals (god bless 'em) Tony Blair's son is never going to go to war"
So the fact that he was found out isn't a tragedy as his job's done over there it's time to come home for tea and medals with his gran!

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Train in Vain

Public transport: some local difficulties

My local station has closed it’s ticket office so it can be altered so the counter is low enough for people with mobility issues presumably wheel chair users. This is a sensible and fair thing to do to allow all tax payers to use public transport. However quite how these wheel chair users are going to get to the London bound trains up and down two flights of 20-30 steps, let alone use the grim warren that is London bridge station at the other end I don’t know. How they will get on the train at all is question seeing as there are no staff to put out ramps at New Cross? They can’t be using the East London line because it’s closed for 3 years. Also a lot of the improvements specifically for wheel chair users , people with prams on public transport are mute considering on my train in morning I can barely squeeze on let alone someone with disabilities, to get them to a seat half the passengers would have to detrain.

The ticket office refurb also threw up the other stupid problem with London/uk transports we need integrated oyster style tickets.Because New Cross is closed I tried to renew my season ticket at Cannon Street, of course they tell me they can’t do this even though they work for the same company as the nice man at New Cross, who’s been doing it for over a year. So I have to go all the way downstairs to a man directly below the bloke above but who had a different corporate tie who sells me one from the same machine they have up stairs! Is this going to be sorted out before the Olympics so that someone from Uruguay staying Bromley can get an overland, bus, tube simply straight forwardly and don’t have to have Kafkaesque conversations like I had?
The answer is NO because New Labour doesn’t stand up to big money it has never knocked heads together and simply told the rail company to sort themselves out or the share holders and executive will be fined.

Until transport is treated as whole this will go on and on. It’s these details that make transport system work but New Labour don’t do details

The Guardian's tech column had article about a new all singing all dancing tracking system for London buses it having to be implemented because the roads are still full of private car users making unnecessary journeys thus forcing the buses to clump up and not run on time. It will cost £117 million and because it's a UK computer system will be that bit crapper than the Finnish version and will double in price. It should tell you via your mobile when the bus is due accurately so you don’t have to hang around at the bus stop, although I’m not sure we will ever trust it and still just head out!

Also the irony is that in Finland I bet the buses run on time to schedule and so don’t need this system!


BLTP 1st Law of UK government technology procurement.

The British invent all the cool stuff in world but the British government couldn’t buy a teas maid without it doubling in price, being 3 years late, telling the time in Tokyo only being permanently tuned to Capital radio and only making cold decaf coffee.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Stupid Gamble!


The End of Super Casinos?
My non conformist roots might be showing here but were super casinos ever a good idea?

I've lived in London on and off since the late 80's and I've been getting of the tube at Tottenham Court Road for just as long; I must have walked up towards Euston a 1000 times, never once have I crossed over and gone to the casino.
I've not even thought of it even when I lived 5 minutes walk away. Me and friends have scoured the west end for late nights drinks and never gone in for a pint and gamble. So why would we go to Manchester or Blackpool to have a punt?

It's not that I don't like gambling the times I've been to the races or the dogs I've usual done well and enjoyed myself. I've never bought a lottery ticket but I do have some premium bonds.


Apart from it being morally wrong for a government to encourage it's citizens to throw away their money it doesn't make economic sense. The idea of these super casinos was regeneration but where's the evidence that people with money wanted to go to these places. You can gamble in lots of ways already both home and abroad but most people (especially New Labour ministers) just choose not to. So the government wasted loads of money to find this out and has had to give Manchester some cash to cheer it up for not winning this dodgy bet.


PS. I've talked elsewhere about the plight of Blackpool adding gambling to the stag parties and happy hour joints would have only quickened the sad place's demise.

Friday, 22 February 2008

They still don't know me at all!

Got another text from Vodaphone this one said "touch my boobs" to go with the Danielle LLoyd one (no me neither) and one for Mjoy which had a women wearing dog leash on the entrance page.

Why would anyone want these downloads (I'm assuming Ms Lloyd is a hand bra sporting hollyoaks startlet or similar not a leading experimental music pinoneer), pictures of disrobed women aren't exactly rare and mostly free and of higher qaulaity. Also "boobs" is such coy naff word and as for touching them on a 1X 2 inch screen seeing them is tricky enough.

So let's be clear can Vodaphone et al grow up and give us what we want ie cheap and easy to use, realiable acces to the net. So I can get the footy scores, the train times and an ABBA discography when I need one.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

The only tea bag in the caddy

The semiotics of washing up:


Tales from an office sink :
Seen amongt the cutlery, a garish cheap chipped mug featuring “humorous” Little Britain characters Andy & Lou and their catchphrases “I want that one” and “yeah, I know”, the mug was unwashed and had been used to make porridge.

It was like a little window into the “Tony Browns” Britain. If you were being maudlin you could say it showed a celebrity obsessed society, devoted to buying cheap trinkets (on credit), who like nothing more than laughing at minorities and who have no time to eat properly and so delude themselves by grazing on quick fix “superfoods” bought at a premium and eaten “al’ Desko” in rush.

The more sensible view would why didn’t they soak that porridge as it’ll never come clean and you are only grumpy because they finished off the milk!

Feb 19th 2007

Today’s news
Crying all the way to the bank:
Apparently Northern Rock is making the City of London look bad at business, but you lot did all mess up though (lending money to people who couldn’t afford it)and cost us all £ 3,000 cheers fellas.

Driven out of Town:
On a similar (engine) note Porsche are going to sue ken for putting up the congestion charge on flash cars as its bad for business. It would seem everything is bad for business. Taxation is bad for business, too much legislation (the free marketers mantra) not enough legislation (Northern rock etc). The idea that paying £25 quid will put off some greedy foreign investor from coming to London is risible. These people will spend £300 quid at Waitrose on food and then eat out for week; they happily spend a £500 on a hand bag and just as much on a bottle of wine at lunch.
If they really don’t like it why not go do business elsewhere Russia (no legal system) China ditto, France (way more taxes), Germany (loads of legislation, bit dull), Switzerland (dull), Italy (backhanders nice place though).

Also do we really need civics lessons from a company that use to make weapons for the Third Reich?


Spineless wonders:
Porsche know that no party in Britain is ever going to stand up to the financial lobby ever again, they only have to say “it will be bad for making money” and the government Tories and Liberals will back down. Its funny this never happened for coal mining, car making, and shipyards.....

The crumbs from the rich man's table.
Also if these rich people hedge fun types don’t pay tax, keep their money abroad and are in effect run private companies (were the profits stay within the company), how exactly are we getting the benefit, we can’t all share a few tips at Gordon Ramsay restaurants and the vat on a Bulgari necklace.

Lastly the best joke about this business about the (non-domiciles) “non-doms” not getting taxed (both here and abroad, wouldn’t that be nice). If they ever messed up and get caught insider trading and ended up in choky would they stop being a Non-doms and end up as “con- doms”. (From this week’s news quiz)


Sport: but we still won!
There was chippy renta quote scouser on the radio this morning; he had that Liverpool way of talking that sounded like he had mouth full of marbles. Now I like Liverpool, they are sort of my second team but you can call us (Barnsley) “a poxy team” as much as you like mate, we still beat you and whingeing about Benitez won’t solve the problem. Players lose matches not managers, or chairman or even the fans players! What happened to the irrepressible scouse whit? The reds will beat Inter tonight and all this will be forgotten.

Transport news:
Still massive overcrowding on my train this morning; no transport at all except buses on the weekend (as overland at Deptford and New cross closed and of course East London line is to for next 3 years)